We are carefully monitoring the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) and following the guidelines and recommendations of the CDC and government health agencies as we develop our response to the virus. This page shares information about our preparations and responses and will be updated as the situation evolves.

Quick Links

Lowell School is open in a hybrid model that includes fully in-person learning for our Pre-Primary students and fully remote learning will remain for 1st-3rd and 6th-8th  grades. On October 19, Kindergarten, 4th, and 5th grades will return to campus for in-person learning.

Please read the following for a safe return to campus:
Reopening Metrics Considered for Phase Two
Student COVID-19 Sick Policy
Return to Campus Expectations

We will reevaluate our operating structure every 4-6 weeks as the year progresses. Please see our calendar for up-to-date information regarding all-school meetings and events.

Quick FAQs

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  • What is expected of families returning to campus?

    For a safe return to campus, we strongly encourage Lowell community members to follow the most current (as of July 22) DC guidelines from Mayor Bowser, including mask-wearing, social distancing and adhere to travel restrictions and quarantine recommendations after returning from a high-risk state. For a full list of guidelines, visit https://coronavirus.dc.gov/phasetwo.
     
  • What is not permitted on campus?

    • No – Parents or caregivers allowed inside any Lowell buildings.
    • No – Tutors permitted inside any Lowell building.
    • No – Delivery personnel allowed inside any Lowell building.
    • No – Teachers allowed to go inside a family’s car to retrieve a child during carpool.
    • No – Students allowed in school who have not completed their daily morning screening via the SchoolPass app.
  • What is required on campus?

    • Yes – Masks are required outside on campus and in the buildings.
    • Yes – Lowell will provide masks for teachers.
    • Yes – Social distancing (6 ft.).
    • Yes – Lowell will provide hand sanitizer.
    • Yes – Parents or caregivers of children will assist children out of and into the car during drop-off and pick up times.
    • Yes – Parents self-report and provide a temperature check via SchoolPass app before drop-off/arrival to school every day.
    • Yes – Parents or caregivers adhere to assigned staggered drop-off and pick up times.
  • 2020-21 Reopening Models

    • In-person
      • All students on campus.
      • Remote learning provided as needed on a case-by-case basis.
      • Traditional Lowell School experience.
    • Hybrid
      • Hybrid A: All students on campus in small cohorts; specialists teach remotely.
        • Students are grouped into cohorts of up to 9 students (Pre-Primary) or up to 12 students (all other grades), with each cohort having one teacher.
        • Students are on campus five days a week.
        • Students interact with learning specialists and content specialists remotely from within their on-campus classroom.
        • Cohorts will use outside learning space whenever possible and will be given regular breaks to go outside for fresh air.
        • Physical activity will be emphasized, even if P.E. instruction looks different.
        • Division Directors work with students who require a remote environment on a case-by-case basis.
      • Hybrid B: Some grades on campus in small cohorts; other grades learning remotely.
        • Students are grouped into cohorts of up to 8 students (Pre-Primary) or up to 12 students (all other grades), with each cohort having one teacher.
        • All students will participate in learning five days a week, to include possible "remote learning practice days." If Lowell needs to move into an all remote environment, practice will allow students to make a smoother transition.
        • Students interact with learning specialists and content specialists remotely.
        • Physical activity will be emphasized, even if P.E. looks different.
        • As needed, supplies will be provided by Lowell via a pickup or drop-off mechanism.
        • Plans are underway to provide weekly optional in-person interaction time on campus for students. 
        • Division Directors work with students who require a remote environment on a case-by-case basis.
        • If participating remotely, students in Pre-Primary - 1st grade will use a combination of Seesaw and Zoom
        • Students in all other grades will use a combination of Google Classroom and Zoom.
        • Cohorts participating remotely will receive synchronous learning each day and will have designated screen-free time.
        • Cohorts participating remotely will have an increased focus on social/emotional connections throughout the day.
        • Cohorts participating remotely will have more learning during the day and less homework.
        • Cohorts participating on campus will use outside learning space whenever possible and will be given regular breaks to go outside for fresh air.
        • For Pre-Primary School, if a cohort is learning remotely or in-person, two plans will be offered. One is a more structured model, while the other offers synchronous participation during the daily key anchor points, while also providing materials and ideas for inquiry inquiry-based exploration.
        • For Primary School, if a cohort is learning remotely or in-person, their experiences will be largely similar. Synchronous learning, including the daily anchor points, will be provided, but interactions with specialist teachers and learning specialists will remain remote. Adequate breaks and time for physical activity and going outside will be a part of the daily schedule.
        • For Middle School, if a cohort is learning remotely or in-person, their experiences will be largely similar. Synchronous learning, including the daily anchor points, will be provided, but interactions with specialist teachers and learning specialists will remain remote. Adequate breaks and time for physical activity and going outside will be a part of the daily schedule.
    • All Remote
      • All students learn remotely.
      • Combination of synchronous and asynchronous learning, plus device-free time.
      • Additional programming and events build connections between families, teachers, and the community.
      • Students are grouped into cohorts of up to 8 students (Pre-Primary) or up to 12 students (all other grades), with each cohort having one teacher.
      • Students will participate in learning five days a week.
      • Students will receive synchronous learning each day and will have designated screen-free time.
      • Students will have common anchor points in the day so that students and families have predictability and routine and so the school is moving together in concert.
      • There will be an increased focus on social/emotional connections throughout the day.
      • There will be more learning during the day and less homework.
      • Physical activity will be emphasized, even if P.E. instruction looks different.
      • As needed, supplies will be provided by Lowell via a pickup or drop-off mechanism.
  • 2020-21 School Year FAQ and Plan

    2020-21 Reopening Plan - Updated 9/30

    Reopening Plan and COVID-19 Details and FAQs - Under revision.

    Parent-led Pods

    Social Compact Form - Must be completed by October 7 for families whose children are returning to campus.

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  • Head of School Letter—Sept. 25, Reopening Plan Phase Two

    Dear Lowell Community,
     
    In my last communication, I told you about my August back to school dreams, and how they still arrived on schedule, even though so much had changed since last summer when I started at Lowell. Despite the few challenges of the first weeks of school, I still feel that same excitement as I check in on our classes and listen to our teachers and division directors at Back to School Night. Everything we have accomplished to date, we have accomplished together, and I want to thank you.
     
    To our families, I thank you for trusting that your children’s best interests are at the core of every decision Lowell makes. They are the inspiration that keeps us all going.
     
    To our faculty and staff, thank you for everything you did to plan for this unprecedented year and everything you are continuing to do to make sure that our students have the kind of experience that makes Lowell School unique…whether they are learning in-person or remotely.
     
    Phase 2 Reopening Plan
     
    Our work to make the 2020-21 school year successful didn’t stop once classes began, and our goal to bring students back to campus for in-person learning remains. Taskforce members, faculty, and staff have spent hundreds of hours following the latest research, trends, and infection rates, assessing our physical plant and workforce readiness and making necessary alterations to our campus and educational programming. All the while, we have maintained our guiding principle of prioritizing the safety and well-being of employees, students, and our community’s families.
     
    As I promised you in August, Lowell assesses our ability to have students on campus every four to six weeks, and that is where most of our work has centered since August. Starting on Thursday, October 15, our Kindergarten, 4th grade, and  5th grade will be returning to campus.
     
    I need to share what this decision will mean for those families and students, and what we will be asking of you. First, though, I want to address questions I anticipate many of you will be asking: Why, if you know remote learning is least successful for our youngest students, are you bringing back grades 4 and 5 instead of grades 1–3? And why are you not bringing back any grades in the Middle School?
     
    Decisionmaking Process
     
    Many of you have asked what metrics Lowell is using to make these decisions. Unfortunately, while infection rates and community spread in the local area are trending well at the moment, these aren’t the only factors we have to consider.
     
    We must understand whether Lowell’s campus and our on-campus learning plan (in the context of safety and mitigation protocols) will be ready to support our students in the safest way possible. We have to look at the current regulations from local governments and the CDC, and current conditions in Washington, DC, and the surrounding counties (including Montgomery County, where many of our faculty and families live). And we must look at the readiness of our workforce and any staffing situations that may exist.
     
    Different aspects of these variables and more make a return for the Primary School grades in question difficult at this time. Lowell continues to focus on bringing our youngest students to campus as soon as possible, and we are actively working to provide a path back. Until then, our 1st – 3rd-grade teams will continue to offer a rich remote learning experience for our early learners.
     
    A hallmark of Lowell’s excellence is the thoughtful, intentional manner with which we make every decision. As we plan a physically distanced return to campus with safety protocols in place, we are carefully assessing what works and what needs to be adjusted, recognizing that with each phase and increase in the number of students on campus, the relative risk of infection increases. Given the research which shows older children and adolescents can transmit the virus effectively, keeping our middle schoolers in an environment of consistency and connection in a successful remote learning system makes the most sense at this time.
     
    Implementing Phase Two
     
    Kindergarten, 4th, and 5th-grade students will not have classes on Friday, October 8, or Tuesday and Wednesday, October 13 and 14. Pre-Primary and Middle School students, and grades 1-3, will have class on those days. This change is to allow the returning teachers time to prepare their spaces to welcome students. Monday, October 12, Lowell School is closed in observance of Indigenous Peoples Day. Thursday and Friday, October 15 and 16, will be on campus orientation days for the returning students. Detailed schedules for orientation, including each family's time slot, will be provided next week. For 4th and 5th grade, Monday, October 19, will be the first full day of school on campus. For Kindergarten, Monday, October 19, and Tuesday, October 20 will be half days of school on campus. Their first full day will be on Wednesday, October 21.
     
    Families of impacted grades will receive a survey asking whether your child will participate in on-campus or remain in remote learning. Questions should be directed to Linda Chang.
     
    We expect families whose students will be newly returning to campus in October to quarantine for 14 days. For families who are currently participating in pods or other arrangements outside of Lowell, this means you will be required to remove your students from that setting and quarantine for 14 days before returning to campus. Additionally, if all guardians in a family have not signed a social compact, the student will not be allowed to return to campus.
     
    Next Steps
     
    We will continue to evaluate our operating status every 4 to 6 weeks, and there will be additional phases of reopening, conditions permitting. Given that we are moving closer to winter, and the holiday season, which scientists say could bring about another wave of infections (combined with our yearly battle against the flu and other illnesses), I cannot promise you when those next phases will be. What I can promise you is that Lowell will do everything possible to bring your children back into the classroom when the time is right.
     
    In the meantime, please continue to take care of yourselves and others. Lowell School is strictly adhering to the DC protocols for travel to hotspots. If your student is learning on campus, and you plan to see your extended families at Thanksgiving, please keep that in mind and notify Nurse Mary if you find that you are required to quarantine.
     
    Inch by inch, row by row, our garden is growing. More than that, it is thriving.
     
    I want to invite you to learn more about our Phase Two Reopening Plan during a community meeting on Wednesday, September 30, at 7:00 p.m. As was the case last time, you will be able to submit questions in advance or ask during the meeting. I also encourage you to use the COVID-19 pages of our website as a resource. We will post updated FAQs and other information you may find useful early next week.
     
    I am grateful for your partnership and patience.
     
    Take good care,
     
    Donna
  • Head of School Letter—August 12, Reopening Announcement

    Dear Lowell Community,
     
    My nightly school dreams, which I have had every August since I started teaching, began this week. They are my internal alarm announcing the approaching start of school, and while some are more surreal than others, they all include happy children learning.
     
    Lowell’s faculty and staff, along with members of our community, have been working tirelessly this summer to plan for a successful return to learning despite these unprecedented times. Our goal has always been to start school entirely in-person with the necessary and appropriate policies, guidelines, and procedures in place to reduce the risk of transmission as much as possible. Simultaneously, our obligation to keep employees, teachers, students, and our community’s families as safe as possible has remained at the forefront of our decision-making when it comes to the model in which that learning happens.
     
    To that end, I am writing to announce that Lowell School will open in September in a hybrid model that includes fully in-person learning for our Pre-Primary students and fully remote learning for Kindergarten through 8th grade.
     
    There is much information I want to share with you about this decision, but first, I want to be clear on one crucial point: This decision is not permanent, nor will it be in place through the end of the first term or calendar year. We will evaluate our operating status every 4-6 weeks, continuing to carefully monitor the research, guidelines, and recommendations from other official sources. Our decision did not come easily, nor was it made without considerable thought, intentionality, and focus on the needs of all in our community. I believe this decision is sound and in the best interest of all involved.
     
    I am deeply indebted to our task force members, who have worked tirelessly over the summer to prepare for a variety of scenarios. These individuals joined me in: finding and processing the most up to date research; attending hours of webinars on reopening schools; noting valuable lessons from our successful on-campus summer camp; considering and balancing the wide variety of needs and wants in our community; making the necessary adjustments to our facilities, operations, and programming to ensure the safest environment and most effective return to learning possible for students and employees; and holding at the core of their work the following principles:
     
    • The safety and well-being of our community is the highest priority.
    • Continuous learning throughout the school year is necessary for students to develop across all developmental domains.
    • Our mission and values will always steer our decision making in all aspects of our thinking and actions.
     
    Research
    Research regarding the spread of coronavirus has consistently shifted, even as recently as the last few weeks. Data suggests that the virus is more easily transmissible than originally thought in children older than 10, and news stories confirm that, as more children gather in spaces such as camp and school, more are being diagnosed positive. Questions also exist regarding whether the virus is more easily transmissible in younger children than previously believed.
     
    In a meeting last week, the deputy director of public health for the District of Columbia shared that the area is seeing an uptick of COVID-19 cases but not at a level that warrants a total shutdown. That said, the outlook for the next 2-3 weeks is unclear, and if we can’t control the communities outside of school, it makes it very difficult to consider opening a campus. The metrics from DC Health show data that support a safe return to schools— with proper safeguards in place—but there are a few notable standards that are trending in the wrong direction. These trends are documented on a 7-14 day average, which implies that a few weeks from now, the broader community could conceivably find itself in a more risky situation.
     
    Lessons Learned
    By all accounts, Lowell’s summer camp was a success. Occurring on campus for five weeks, we ended our final session without a single diagnosed case of COVID-19 among counselors, staff, or campers. Our tremendous camp staff, led by Dawn Smith—who is also our Interim Director of Pre-Primary School—is to be credited with creating, implementing, and consistently following through on a robust mitigation plan.
     
    Through our experience, we were able to observe and take note of successful steps and lessons that are being applied to the reopening of our Pre-Primary School. We learned that a gradual approach to opening, starting with a small number of students and families, not only helps people lean into the experience progressively, but also provides the necessary time to ease into new routines and procedures with confidence. Our camp experience validated research from schools around the world that show the youngest students tend to be most compliant in following the rules of wearing masks and practicing social distancing. This is aided by the appropriate use of songs and cues that are not scary or punitive being used to help them remember and internalize the practices.
     
    Four of our Pre-Primary teachers also served as camp staff, and their firsthand success, experience, and confidence bode well for the return of Lowell’s youngest students to campus.
     
    Needs and Wants
    I have spent much of the last month listening to members of our community. These genuinely are unprecedented times, creating a wide swath of emotions and worries.
     
    The worries are wide-ranging, and have resulted in an equally wide-ranging list of perceived needs and desired wants for student learning. Parents are worried about how to successfully support their children in remote learning while working full time. Parents are also concerned about sending their children to school at a time when COVID-19 appears to impact children more than first thought. Faculty are worried about their students’ social, emotional, and academic growth if they do not return to campus for learning; and, they are concerned about their own health if they return to teaching on campus, as well as the impact their exposure could have on the health of their loved ones. I have heard from parents that their children can’t wait to get back to campus, but they are also scared that they will “catch coronavirus” in school.
     
    Lowell is committed to making our school as safe as possible and comfortable for all. And I know that our community shares that commitment. The last thing any of us want is for our fear and anxiety to transmit or extend to our students. Beginning the school year engaging in remote learning for Kindergarten-8th grade allows more time for all of us to adapt.
     
    What we know instinctively, and had validated by our experience last spring, is that remote learning is inappropriate for our Pre-Primary students. The older the Pre-Primary student, the more success the student can have. However, the developmental levels of early learners require them to be engaged in person-to-person experiences if they are going to thrive socially, emotionally, cognitively, and physically. By reopening our Pre-Primary School first, we are able to address the needs of the most vulnerable virtual learners and begin paving the way for greater in-person learning opportunities for our entire school.
     
    Our Facilities, Operations, and Programming
    We have worked all summer to ensure that our campus is ready to receive learners and employees when the time is right. Our HVAC filters have been upgraded, and increased airflow has been pushed through our HVAC systems, maximizing the amount of outside air that enters each building. We have also purchased tents, solidified wi-fi access on our field, and made it possible for classes to be held outside. We have repurposed spaces on campus to accommodate the additional classroom capacity necessitated by smaller cohorts. Also, our Health and Safety Task Force has made numerous conservative recommendations to facilitate a low-risk return to campus, including new cleaning protocols.
     
    Our Teaching and Learning Task Force has built schedules and designed cohorts that allow for a smooth and easy transition from remote to on-campus learning and back again if necessary, all the while minimizing risk of transmission and maximizing learning. To make learning as deep as possible regardless of location, while also holding true to our mission and our priority of continued health and safety for all, we have made decisions to alter the ways we engage with our students.
     
    Our teachers have refined both their on-campus and online teaching pedagogies, and been involved in hundreds of hours of professional development. They participated in offerings on project-based learning with PBLWorks, online learning design with Global Online Academy, certification with Google, and an intensive course on distance learning through the Association of Independent Maryland & DC Schools, in addition to training and reading on wide-ranging topics, including middle school child development, curriculum mapping, culturally responsive teaching, and school counseling in a virtual setting. Across the board, our teachers are ready to engage in this year’s school experience with your children, regardless of location.
     
    Our Principles
    The same set of guiding principles has informed every decision made by each task force throughout the past few months, including the decision to bring our students back gradually. The safety and well-being of our entire community have been at the forefront of every conversation, exploration, and recommendation. Alongside the principles of safety and well-being, we have held fast to our belief that continuous learning is best for students, and that our mission is our reason for existing. That will remain true as we re-evaluate the ever-changing conditions in our school, our community, and the DC metro area at large.
     
    We are confident that, barring an upward trend of infection in the DMV, our reopening strategy will work, and that we will eventually be able to provide in-person learning for all who desire it. We do, however, recognize that some families may choose to remain in all remote learning based on their specific circumstances, and we will support that decision. The strategies we have outlined will help Lowell to open and stay open, in a manner that protects the physical and emotional well-being of our entire community.
     
    In Closing
    The Board of Trustees and I have spent many sleepless nights striving to make the best decisions possible for our community. I join you in yearning for a return to a traditional Lowell experience, and I feel deeply for all families being put in the position of having to make extremely difficult decisions due to the complications that come from our current and future “normal.” However, I do believe that our current plan will build the foundation for a successful full return to campus and avoid the possibility of Lowell having to take two steps back after taking one step forward. Phasing into a safe return allows us to plan thoughtfully for students and adults while acknowledging that the infection levels in the District of Columbia could force us to revise our choices and remain in remote learning for longer than anticipated.     
     
    My goal in making this decision is to uphold the collective well-being of our community. I hope that we can support and acknowledge each other, recognizing that this is not about finding a solution that works for each individual, but rather about rallying together around a plan that works for the greater good.
     
    I want to invite you to learn more about our plan for returning to school during a community meeting tomorrow, August 13, at 7:00 p.m. In advance of that meeting, I am sharing with you both our plan, as well as a detailed set of FAQs. Additionally, we will have separate open office hours with each division director next week for you to learn about specific plans for your child’s grade. That schedule will be announced during the community meeting.
     
    I am thinking of you all, and grateful for your partnership and patience.
     
    Take good care,
    Donna
  • Head of School Letter—July 28, Community Meeting

    Dear Lowell Community –
     
    Like me, I know many of you watched Mayor Bowser’s press conference yesterday with great interest. For those who have not heard, she announced that DCPS would reopen on 8/31 in a remote learning environment. That plan is in effect until 11/6, which is the end of their first term. The Mayor also noted that independent schools do not have an obligation to follow DCPS’s plan.
     
    I want to assure you that the members of Lowell’s Reopening Steering Committee are carefully considering this new information, along with an array of other new data and information. As I said Tuesday night in our community meeting, the following three principles will guide any decisions regarding the reopening of Lowell School:
    • The safety and well-being of our community is the highest priority.
    • Continuous learning throughout the school year is necessary for students to develop across all developmental domains.
    • Our mission and values will always steer our decision making in all aspects of our thinking and actions.
    We are compiling an FAQ document based on the work of the task forces and the questions you submitted and will be distributing it in the next few days.
     
    I know how very hard this uncertainty is for all of you. We all want what’s best for the Lowell community, and that includes our students and their families, as well as our dedicated faculty/staff.
     
    Thank you to those of you who have written to share your thoughts, opinions, and encouragement. I hope you will continue to share your concerns, questions, and feedback with our division directors or with me personally.
     
    In solidarity,
     
    Donna

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Lowell School is a private PK-8th grade school located in NW Washington, DC. At Lowell students gain the knowledge, skills, and social-emotional literacy to be the bold leaders and creative problem solvers our world needs.